WEDDINGSWeddings are of enormous cultural significant inthe Kingdom of Tonga. A traditional Tonganwedding is a major family event. A weddingceremony lasts at least 3 days and comprisesmany steps both leading to the event and after.For the Chinese people, the purpose ofmarriage is to continue the ancestral line and tocreate alliances between two families. There arecertainly a lot of rituals.
1. FRIENDSHIP/COURTSHIP (FAI KAUME’A) 求爱 This is the first step. When a young man meets a girl he likes, he will take a chance in asking her for friendship. If the girl accepts, a relationship is started. Usually most of them met at “faikava” where the girl served as a “tou’a”. CHINESE : In contrast, the Chinese people, women were not allowed to choose the person they married. Instead, the family of the bride picked the prospective husband. Marriages were chosen based upon the needs of reproduction and honor, as well as the need of the father and husband.
1. DATING (‘A’A) 约会 The guy must always go to the girl’s home and ask permission from her parent to talk in her house. If the parents agree, the couple may chat inside the girl’s house. To develop up their relationship, this stage is very important. CHINESE : they don’t experience this process. There is no such thing as “dating”.
1. PROPOSAl (FAITOHI) 求婚 At this stage they got to know each other very well and the man has to make his proposal to the girl’s dad or her uncle which is known as the ‘Ulumotu’a – the Head of the Extended Family. If it is accepted then the two families will decide on the date of the wedding. Then each family will start preparing for that day.
CHINESE : this is the first stage of the process. The important parties in this process were the parents of the prospective bride and groom, rather than the pride and groom themselves. When the boy’s parents identified a likely bride-to-be, they would send the matchmaker to present gifts to the girl’s parents and to sound out their feelings about the match. If the proposal was well-received, the matchmaker would obtain the date and hour of the girl’s birth recorded, which have to go through a ritual, also the boy’s. Only after both outcomes were favorable, would the two families arrange to meet. Finally face-to-face, each family evaluated the other in terms of appearance, education, character, and social position. If both were satisfied they would proceed on.
• CElEBRATION BEFORE THE WEDDING (FAKAlElEA) To show happiness of two families uniting, they have to celebrate on the night before the wedding on the next day. The groom’s family will take gifts such as ngatu (tapa), kie (fine mats) and food to the bride’s home to show that they are happy with the impending marriage. A kava party will be held as well as women’s dancing exchanging of goods between the two families.
BETROTHAl CHINESE : The boy’s family presented betrothal gifts of money and significant items such as tea, bridal cakes, pairs of male and female poultry, sweetmeats and sugar, wine and tobacco, accompanied by an itemized statement of these gifts. The boy’s family gifts acknowledged the parents’ efforts in raising the girl, and by accepting the gifts, the girl’s family pledged her to the boy’s. In which the bride was given to the family rather than the groom alone.
WEDDING DAy (‘AHO MAlI) 婚礼 On the day of the ceremony, the bride and groom “wear their wealth.” They are wrapped in their best ta’ovala or mats, their bodies shine with precious oils and they wear flower necklaces. The groom will come to the bride’s house and escort her to the wedding place. There they will make oath to love, respect and obey each other and sign their marriage certificate. Usually a Registrar will be present to witness the signing of the certificate. From there the couple will then attend a church ceremony to seal their marriage before God. No wedding in the Kingdom of Tonga is LEGAL until the couple are married by both the government and the church. Dancing and Feasting will follow after the wedding ceremony. A kava ceremony will also be held to honor the bride and groom. The wedding day is the only time that a woman is honored at a kava ritual where she is allowed to sit in the place of honor.
CHINESE : Wedding Ceremony consists of many elaborate parts; Wedding Procession : The wedding procession from the bride’s home to the groom’s home consists of a traditional band, the bride’s sedan, and the bride’s dowry in the forms other than money. Welcoming the Bride : The wedding procession of the bride’s family stops at the door of the groom’s home. There are ceremonies to be followed to welcome the bride and her wedding procession in to the groom’s home. Actual Wedding Ceremonies : Exchanging vows, the couple would pay respect to the Jade Emperor, the family deities, paying respect to deceased ancestors, the bride and groom’s parents and other elders, and paying respect to each other. Wedding Banquet : there are few ceremonies such as bride presenting wines or tea to parents, spouse, and guests.
WEDDING NIGHT The first night for the newly wed to sleep together, high- born women were expected to ‘demonstrate’ their virginity by bleeding heavily on their wedding night. The groom’s aunts would display the stained white sheet, after bathing the bride. The groom’s family will express their enthusiasm and appreciation by hosting another banquet to honor the bride, who never knew no other man.
CHINESE : The bride had to get ready for the next day, in which she should wake up early to honor her ancestors. On this day. The bride is formally introduced to the groom’s family, relatives and friends. Older relatives will be giving her small tokens. After three days of the wedding the bride will visit her family where she is welcomed and received as a guest. A whole “roast pig with tail” is given to the bride’s family to declared that she was a virgin before marriage.
FIRST SUNDAy Then finally, on the first Sunday after their wedding, the couple will attend church and will again wear their best “ta’ovala.” Feasting will follow after the service when both families will celebrate for the last time.
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